Black Swan Folk Club

E-Newsletter 105

Early September 2009


I’m delighted to report that August at the Folk Club was a very successful and enjoyable month. Attendances were excellent, with one night a Full House and the other three not far off full as well. More importantly, the music was of a very high standard. One regular sent me the following comment “I found last week's session - the 3 Leeds lads - brilliant: fresh, dynamic and involving!”

  1. MEGSON SELLING WELL, 3 SEPTEMBER. Checking the We Got Tickets website I see that over half the available tickets for this week’s club guests, the duo Megson, have already been sold. If you are planning to come along on Thursday I would urge you to go online and buy your ticket(s) as soon as possible. If you do come along “on spec” on Thursday evening, get there early and be advised you still might not get in!

  2. SAM CARTER, 17 SEPTEMBER. When I booked this young man around nine months ago I had hardly heard of him but thought he sounded promising. It seems I was right! His newly released debut CD, Keepsakes, has been picking up generous airplay (including a Mike Harding interview) and has received some glowing reviews.
    For example, on 14 August The Guardian wrote: “He’s an excellent guitarist and an original, distinctively English singer-songwriter, specialising in well-observed songs. ... The first song shows what he can do, with confident finger-picking guitar work matched against an urgent contemporary tale of love, jealousy, fighting and jail. ... Another young celebrity for the new English folk scene.”
    Come along and judge for yourselves on 17 September. If you like, first have a look at Susie Fox MCs this one and tickets are just £ 6 (concessions £ 5). Several have already been sold at

  3. JAMES KEELAGHAN, 24 SEPTEMBER. We were first entranced by this splendid Canadian singer back in 1996 and he has revisited our club several times since then. Three times a winner in Canada’s Juno music awards, James is “a definite contender for Canada’s leading acoustic performer” says Time Out. “He is one hell of a good songwriter and as a guitarist his playing is practically faultless. But listen to his voice: a smooth, coffee-rich baritone (which) is the perfect vehicle for songs that are as intelligent and meaningful as anything here on this side (of the Atlantic)”.
    On this latest tour James is joined by Zav RT (formerly Jamie RT) on fiddle and David Woodhead on bass. We look forward to some brand new songs from the latest CD, House Of Cards (“poetic, layered tales which are richly rewarding and utterly compelling” writes one early reviewer), alongside classics from the Keelaghan back catalogue. My fellow organiser John Little (see item 19) tells me that at least three different performers in his Reeth venue have covered Keelaghan songs this year alone – testament to his strengths as a songwriter. See for loads more about James’s music.
    Chris Euesden MCs this one and tickets are now on sale online at £ 9 (concessions £ 7).

  4. AUTUMN LEAFLET PUBLISHED. I’m collecting our new publicity brochure from the printers on Wednesday (2nd) and aim to have it into circulation almost at once. Pick one up on your next Thursday club visit, or at any time from the Black Swan Inn. Other local outlets include the Central Library and the Tourist Information Centre in the De Grey Rooms.

  5. CONCERTS UPDATE. A quick reminder that the NCEM Box Office opens for the Autumn season this Friday (4th). That season includes our three concerts: Faustus (28 September), Jackie Oates (19 October) and Chris Wood (30 November), plus two folk concerts promoted by NCEM themselves, Show Of Hands (15 November) and Martin Simpson & Martin Taylor (18 December), as well as a full programme of World Music, Jazz and Classical concerts. See for full details. Box Office phone is 01904 658338.
    Nominated for Best Group in this year’s BBC Folk Awards, Faustus unites three pivotal English musicians of the younger generation, with backgrounds in bands such as Bellowhead and Waterson:Carthy. Saul Rose is a virtuoso melodeon player, the flamboyant Paul Sartin contributes fiddle and oboe, and versatile Benji Kirkpatrick (son of John) plays an enormous array of fretted instruments, while all three are strong singers. Together they breathe vigorous new life into a well-researched selection of English songs and dance tunes, making music which is accessible and entertaining, joyful and moving in equal measure. They gave us a great night at the Black Swan early in their career in spring 2007, since when their stature has grown in leaps and bounds.
    The opening spot for this concert (28 September) comes from Singers Night and Folk Weekend favourites Blackwater, aka Ruth Wells and Tony Dargan and as usual it is a prompt 7.30 start. Tickets are £ 13 (concessions £ 11).


  1. MORRIS FILM COMES TO YORK. Back in April (E-News 99) I wrote about the new cult film Morris: A Life With Bells On ( ). Well, I’m pleased to report that it has now won national distribution through the Picturehouse cinema chain and gets its Yorkshire Regional Premiere at City Screen in York on Sunday 27 September at 2.45pm. The City Screen brochure calls it “a heart-warming feature-length comedy about an avant-garde Morris dancer Derecq Twist and his fight to modernise Morris dancing. From England to America, from tragedy to love, Morris is a celebration of live, eccentricity and what it means to be English. But most important of all, it is just plain fun”. It has a 12A certificate and the bookings line is 0871 704 2054 or go to

  2. ALLAN’S NORTHERN SKY. Freelance writer Allan Wilkinson has attended a number of recent club events, posting perceptive and thoughtful reviews on our own website and on other on-line outlets. Allan has now gone a big step further, launching his own web site devoted to folk, roots and acoustic music. Accessed via, Northern Sky is a very attractively designed site with some great content – not just reviews but also artist interviews, photos, a diary and a discussion forum. Check it out – it is an excellent combination of musical enthusiasm and journalistic ability. We look forward to working with Allan for a long time to come.

  3. GLOWING REVIEW FOR JOHN, BARRY & ROGER. Another generous review of one of our concerts comes from Joe Grint in the latest edition of Tykes’ News, in this case John Tams & Barry Coope at NCEM in May. Joe also says nice things about Roger Davies’ support spot and concludes “I was delighted to witness the audience’s ovation, which suggested that there were now present many converts to Roger’s unique and charming craft”. It was certainly my impression that Roger’s 30-minute set won him plenty of new fans, so this is an opportune moment to tell you that Roger launches his new album The Busker at Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield on Saturday 10 October. Before then he is action this Saturday (5th) at Swaledale Folk Club in Richmond. See

  4. BAND ROOM FEATURED IN THE GUARDIAN. Staying with journalism, it was good to see Farndale’s unique Band Room venue given a full page feature in last Saturday’s Guardian (in the Travel section!). If you like “alt country” or “Americana” Nigel Burnham puts on some great gigs in this 100-capacity corrugated iron village hall. I’ve only made it there once myself (to see Peter Rowan several years ago), and it was a memorable evening. See for this autumn’s line-up.


After a bit of a lull during the summer, the wider local music scene is coming back to life.

  1. BLACK SWAN INN GIGS. Country & Western Swing favourites Los Yobos appear at the Black Swan this coming Saturday (5th – £ 5, pay at the door), and Alison Krauss modern bluegrass tribute band Union Central are there a week on Friday (11th – £ 6, reservation advised by ringing Phil on York 783029).

  2. MARTIN SIMPSON AT FIBBERS. This coming Sunday, 6 September, Martin Simpson is in concert at Fibbers on Stonebow, with support from contemporary duo TWO. Tickets are £ 10 in advance ( or 0844 847 2424) or £ 12 on the door. As mentioned earlier (item 5), Martin is back in York on 18 December, for a collaboration with jazz guitarist Martin Taylor at NCEM. Fibbers don’t have a great deal of other folk/roots programming this season, but it is probably worth mentioning festival favourites Three Daft Monkeys (22 October), James Yorkston, who has just released an album of traditional songs (23 October) and guitar virtuoso Erik Mongrain (11 November).

  3. CHRIS, JULIE & OTHERS AT THE DUCHESS. Next door in Stonebow House, The Duchess has a fuller line-up of folk/roots artists this autumn, beginning with BBC Folk Awards 2009 Best Duo, Chris While & Julie Matthews (Sunday 4 October). Later Duchess visitors include Oysterband, cult US songwriter Fred Eaglesmith, The Unthanks (formerly Rachel Unthank & The Winterset), Karine Polwart and Peggy Seeger with Martin Carthy and Norma & Mike Waterson. See for dates, prices and other details.

  4. CROCKERS IN THE BASEMENT. Bluegrass stars The Crocker Brothers appear at City Screen’s Basement Bar on Friday 25 September with special guest Katherine Crocker. Tickets £ 5 on 0871 704 2054.

  5. SONGS AND SUCHLIKE AT THE POST. As part of the York Over 50’s Festival there is a concert of acapella voices and world music at The Winning Post on Bishopthorpe Road on Sunday 27 September. Artists appearing include instrumental group Hang On, vocal trio The Lenanshees, the duo Purple Delta and singer Maggie Allred. Doors open 8pm, entry £ 4.


Arts Centres and concert promoters around the region are busily announcing their autumn schedules. Pocklington honourably excepted, the Arts Centres I’ve heard from so far are a bit light on folk/roots programming, but some of the independent promoters are making up for that.

  1. POCKLINGTON ARTS CENTRE has several folk acts lined-up, plus the annual Blues Weekend, a talk by Bob Harris and other events. Unfortunately, the best of the folk stuff is programmed for Thursdays (ouch!) so I’ll leave you to find out the details by going to By the way, if you miss out on Megson at the Black Swan this week (item 1 above), you can catch them at Pocklington in January next year!

  2. SELBY TOWN HALL ARTS CENTRE has only one straight folk act this season, all-woman group The Shee on Saturday 19 December, though they do also offer guitar ace Woody Mann on Friday 30 October. See

  3. HOWDEN LIVE likewise have only one folk show booked, but it is a real coup: June Tabor with Andy Cutting and Mark Emerson on Saturday 7 November. See

  4. SALTAIRE LIVE kick off their new season with Shetland band Fiddler’s Bid on Sunday 13 September, with Bellowhead, Kathryn Tickell and Waterson:Carthy to follow. See

  5. REETH MEMORIAL HALL continues to do great stuff in the capable hands of John Little. They have Chris While & Julie Matthews this Friday (4th), with James Keelaghan to follow the day after his York show (25th). Future guests include Dave Swarbrick (this one at Grinton church), Kerfuffle and the Lark Rise Band. See

  6. HUNSLEY ACOUSTIC MUSIC in East Yorkshire is run by another champion of live music, Will Richardson. He presents Ben & Joe Broughton at The Half Moon in Elloughton on Saturday 12 September, then Steve Tilston with The Durbervilles (some combination!) on Saturday 26 September at Elloughton Village Hall. See

  7. HENSHAWS ARTS & CRAFTS CENTRE in Knaresborough also offers regular folk concerts, the next of which is by Mary Humphreys & Anahata on Saturday 12 September, with support from local legend Mark Longster. Later events feature Jez Lowe & The Bad Pennies and Belshazzar’s Feast. There is no website for the folk events, so ring 01423 541888 for further information and to book tickets.


The Folk Festival season is not yet over – in fact it never really ends these days, or so it seems. Upcoming in our region are the following:

  1. THE OSMOTHEREY GATHERING takes place in the village hall and pubs of this lovely moorland village over the 11-13 September. The mostly local guest list includes Flossie, Wendy Arrowsmith, Blind Summat!, Lander Mason, Chris Milner and others. See or call 01287 660965.

  2. OTLEY FOLK FESTIVAL “comes of age” with its 18th annual event from 17-20 September. The guest list is typically huge and varied with a pleasant mix of national headliners and good local artists. See

  3. HELMSLEY FOLK WEEKEND takes place over 25-27 September, mostly at the Arts Centre, plus a ceilidh in the Town Hall and some pub sessions. Headliners are Bella Hardy (Saturday) and Carthy & Swarbrick (Sunday). See for further details.

  4. INGLETON FOLK WEEKEND is headlined by The McCalmans this year, on a rare English date. The weekend in question is 2-4 October. See

  5. WETHERBY ARTS FESTIVAL takes place over three weeks from mid October. Folk and related concerts include Hilary James & Simon Mayor (20 October) and Blazin’ Fiddles (30 October). See for the full programme.

  6. MUSICPORT 09 takes place over the weekend 23-25 October at its new home in the restored Spa at Bridlington and is of course the premier World Music festival in the north. See

That’s all for now, folks. I hope to be back later in September with more news.